All posts by Peter DeHaan

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan shares his passion for life and faith through words. Peter DeHaan’s website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages. Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly.

Six Flavors of Book Publishing

In a previous post, I talked about traditional publishing and vanity publishing (once the only two options), with hybrid publishing now filling the space between. Hybrid publishing is a combination of the two, with varying options for a book author.Publishing options for a book author

Hybrid Publishing

A common term for this ever-evolving assortment of book publishing options is hybrid publishing. It’s also a descriptive name, with some book publishers opting for other labels.

Entrepreneurial Publishing

One reader mentioned entrepreneurial publishing. I like that. It reminds us that publishing a book is a business. The book author needs to take part in the process in order to be successful.

Indie Publishing

Indie publishing (short for independent publishing) or indie press can take on a wide array of meanings, from a traditional publisher that is small and therefore independent, to a niche publisher, to self-publishing.

Custom Publishing

Custom publishing is a broader term that in addition to books can alternately cover magazines, newsletters, brochures, or whatever else can be imagined.

However, regardless of the label, the main thing is to analyze what they do and don’t do, determine how money flows between publisher and book author (and in which direction), and realize this is a business, for both publisher and author. Then, after finding the best fit, carefully read the contract. Then hire an attorney who is familiar with publishing agreements.

Happy publishing!

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Hybrid Publishing: Providing a Continuum of Publishing Options

Once upon a time, authors had two primary options to publish their books: a traditional publisher or a vanity publisher. However, a new option has emerged: hybrid publishing.Hybrid Publishing

Traditional Publishing

In today’s challenging economic environment, traditional publishers are risk adverse. This makes it harder for a new author to sign with them. A traditional publisher simply doesn’t want to take a chance on an unknown, unproven, untested author. This isn’t to say it never happens, just that it doesn’t happen as often as it once did.

Vanity Publishing

The other possibility, vanity publishing, however, isn’t much of an alternative. Selecting this option is often an effort in futility. It costs much and provides little, except for a garage full of books that can’t be given away because of their poor production quality. This doesn’t always happen, but it happens too often.

Hybrid Publishing

However, as these two options fade, an array of hybrid publishers fills the void. These offer a plethora of opportunities to fill the space between these two extremes.

The hybrid model of publishing combines elements of traditional and vanity publishing. It takes elements of both to produce something more accessible and possibly superior. Hybrid publishing exists on a continuum, with an assortment of manifestations to pick from. Regardless of what publishing options an author seeks, there is likely a hybrid publisher, somewhere out there, who will meet the need.

If traditional publishing is out of reach and vanity publishing is, well, too vain, than hybrid publishing is the way to go. But don’t jump at the first one you find. Carefully consider several hybrid publishing providers. Continue looking until you find the one that’s the right match for you, your goals, and your writing.Carefully consider publishing options until you find the one that’s the right match for you, your goals, and your writing. Click To Tweet

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What Movies Teach Us About Book Publishing

I read a lot of book reviews and even more movie reviews. Setting aside the critiques that are not really reviews—attacks on persons or perspective—the resulting (real) reviews are insightful for the book or movie in question but also in better understanding their respective industries.The difference between movie reviews and book reviews

I’ve noticed a difference between movie reviews and book reviews. In movie reviews it’s common for reviewers to address issues such as quality and budget. Phrases like “big budget” and “b-movie” or “hastily produced” and “carefully crafted” come to mind. Even saying “star-studded,” “foreign film,” or “cult classic” carry implications about quality and budget.

Sometimes, the marketing of the movie makes its way into a review. Some movies have flopped, not because the movie was bad but because of its marketing. Movie reviewers note these things.

Book Reviews

I don’t often see these concepts repeated in book reviews. Yet with the ease and growth of self-publishing and the streamlining (think cost-cutting measures) of traditional publishing, issues of quality and budget loom as greater considerations for reviewers and consumers alike.

These considerations will inevitably make their way into book reviews, with reviewers commenting on more than the words, but also the editing, the layout, the printing, the marketing, and a host of other ancillary issues.

When I review a movie that has production issues, I feel an obligation to point that out, lest readers be disappointed and feel I led them astray. I’m now realizing I have this same obligation with book reviews. No longer can I only focus on the words, but I must also consider the total package.

The changing book publishing industry has put us in this situation. We can choose to lament it or acknowledge it. Regardless, we must be aware of it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Potential of Artisanal Publishing

In Guy Kawasaki’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, he advances the term “artisanal publishing” as a new way of looking at self-publishing. The vanity publishing of yesteryear can be smartly rejuvenated with a fresh perspective of artistry, hence the concept of artisanal book publishing.The Potential of Artisanal Publishing

As the distinction between traditional publishing versus self-publishing fade, the evolving consideration morphs into mass-produced book publishing versus artisanal publishing. After all, who are writers, if not artists? So why not extend artistry to the production and dissemination of their work?

The concept of artisanal publishing opens new doors and opportunities for innovative writers who seek to share their writing with others.  Authors should begin to think like an artist and publish books like an artist.

People like the output from artisanal bakers, might the output of artisanal publishing be just as tasty?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Three Reasons Why Everyone Likes Anthologies

An anthology is a collection of selected writings by various authors. It seems anthologies are popular. Why is that?Three Reasons Why Everyone Likes Anthologies

Readers Enjoy Bite-Sized Passages in Anthologies

Anthologies focus on a theme, but within that subject, each author’s work is usually independent of the other contributors. Each chapter or section contains an autonomous thought. There’s no storyline to remember and no lesson builds throughout the book. Readers can read an anthology as their schedule allows without concern over continuity, can skip chapters without consequence, and can read sections in a random order. Reading an anthology fits the lifestyle and preference of many of today’s readers.

Anthology Writers Share the Workload

Each writer’s contribution to an anthology is minimal; it’s quick to write and easy to manage. While a book may take a single author months or even years to complete, anthologies come together quickly, with the content assembled in a few weeks. Writing for an anthology benefits writers, with less work required, a quicker result, and a published work to add to their resume.

Anthologies Minimize Publisher Risk

Publishers like anthologies because each of the contributors will promote the book, sell the book, and buy the book. For example, assume an anthology has twenty contributors and each author facilitates the sale of 200 books through their personal network of contacts. That means 4,000 in total sales. With the majority of published books selling only a few hundred copies, several thousand is a good outcome. It doesn’t make the publisher rich, but they won’t lose money on the deal, either.

With anthologies offering benefits to readers, writers, and publishers, we can expect to see more of these compilations in the future.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Nine Errors of Self-Publishing

For the past two months, I’ve blogged about the nine self-publishing errors. My list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a great starting point.The Nine Errors of Self-Publishing

Nine Self-Publishing Errors

  1. Poor Content
  2. A Lousy Cover
  3. A Lackluster Title
  4. Poor Editing
  5. Poor File Conversion
  6. Font Abuse: Getting Carried Away With Fonts
  7. Having a Homemade Look
  8. Failure to Follow Conventions
  9. Publishing Too Soon

When you self-publish your next book, be sure to avoid these nine errors. Click To Tweet When you self-publish your next book, be sure to review these items. I know I will.

What would you add to the list?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Ninth Error of Self-Publishing: Publishing Too Soon

In the Rush to Publish We Run the Risk of Sharing Our Words Before They’re Ready

publishing too soonThe final error of self-publishing for us to look at his publishing too soon. Too many authors frustrated over not being able to get a traditional book deal or find an agent make the mistake of jumping into self-publishing prematurely.

They finished their book and made every effort to produce the best possible one they can, but it may not be ready for the world to see. Even if they avoid the first eight errors of self-publishing, these don’t matter if the words aren’t ready for the world to read. Sometimes the better solution to self-publishing is to work on becoming a better writer, to hone our craft and write words people want to read.

But in a desire to get their book out into the real world, they publish it before they should. I know. I almost made that mistake.

Publishing Too Soon

My first serious book, which still sits on my computer hard drive, received much effort on my part to make it a truly great book. Multiple critique groups had given me feedback, mostly encouraging. Beta readers had read it and offered few suggestions for improvement. I shopped it to agents, who all declined to represent me. I even sent it directly to a couple publishers. There was no interest. Sometimes I received no response and other times a polite “no thank you.” A couple even gave me a little bit of feedback, but it wasn’t too helpful.

But no one said, your book isn’t ready for publishing. That’s what they should’ve told me, because it wasn’t. Only now do I realize that. Had I self-published this book, a memoir, I would have embarrassed myself and hurt others. I also would have damaged my book writing career before it began.

I recently identified a half-dozen things I needed to do to fix the book’s problems. It would require major editing and a lot of time. I hired a developmental editor to give me feedback before I went to work.

She agreed with all the corrections I knew the book needed. Then she confirmed that even with these changes, the book would still fall short of what publishers look for and what readers expect. I’m glad she told me the truth before I spent too much time trying to make a book work that never would work, short of a total rewrite. I’m so glad I didn’t self-publish that book, because I would have been publishing too soon. Click To Tweet

I’m so glad I didn’t self-publish that book, because I would have been publishing too soon.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Eighth Error of Self-Publishing: Failure to Follow Conventions

There are certain standards established publishers follow. Though these conventions may seem arbitrary, a failure to follow them could make your book stand out in a bad way.

The Eighth Error of Self-Publishing: Failure to Follow ConventionsFor example:

  • On the cover, the author’s name stands alone without the word “By.”
  • Subtitles aren’t preceded by a colon but placed on a separate line from the title.
  • Chapters start on the right side, not the left.
  • The first paragraph of a chapter is not indented; the rest are.
  • Lines aren’t right justified.
  • Serif fonts are used; san serif fonts are not.
  • The page number, chapter title, and title appear on specific locations on each page.
  • It’s Acknowledgments not Acknowledgements.
  • The author writes the Preface.
  • The author does not write the Foreword (not Forward); someone else does.
  • It’s Prologue not Prolog.

Aside from issues of spelling for the last two items, I don’t know why or how these things became expected—or who decided on them in the first place. While I’ve seen all these conventions broken on occasion by established publishers, be aware that the less we adhere to these expectations, the more likely a book will just not “feel” right to a reader or potential buyer.

Personally, I’d like to break them all. But I won’t because I want my book to have the best chance of success. If I need to follow some arbitrary rules, I gladly will.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Seventh Error of Self-Publishing: Having a Homemade Look

To address the seventh of eight self-publishing errors, let’s take a step back. Let’s look at the bigger picture, that is, the book as a whole. Don’t self-published a book that looks homemade.

A book that looks homemade: The 7th Error of Self-PublishingIn years past, this may have included photocopied pages, a simplistic cover, spiral binding (or three-hole punched for a binder), 8 1/2 by 11 size, crooked pages, missing pages, or out of order pages. Some books suffered from all these production problems.

With advances in technology, these issues are in the past. However, we must still guard against producing a book that looks homemade. All of the prior six errors can point to a homemade look, but four in particular lead the way: a poor cover, lackluster editing, inadequate file conversion, and getting carried away with fonts. Other issues include simplistic graphics, low-resolution photos, and pixilated or distorted artwork.

We must still guard against producing a book that looks homemade. Click To Tweet

Individually, each of these errors is bad enough. But when combined, the evidence quickly builds that the book is homemade: a second-rate effort and not worthy of serious attention.

Consider deliberating over a book and the cover looks second rate. Then open it to find a typo on page one, be assaulted with different font types and sizes, and see a random paragraph start in midsentence. In all likelihood, we’ll dismiss the book—as well as the author—and proceed to another title.

Only if we want to support the author or have a deep interest in the topic will we condescend to buy a book that looks homemade.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The Sixth Error of Self-Publishing: Font Abuse

I call the sixth error of self-publishing, font abuse. That not as prevalent and it once was, font abuse is using multiple font styles, with varying point sizes throughout a manuscript.The Sixth Error of Self-Publishing: FONT ABUSE

The author may view this as creative formatting, but the only thing it accomplishes is irritating the reader. At best, this barrage of fonts slows readers down; at worst, it causes them to stop reading altogether.

In one self-published book, the first page used four different fonts and even more point sizes for those fonts. There were words in bold, italic, and uppercase. It was a nightmare to read. Hoping it was an anomaly, I turned the page: two fonts, four points sizes, and some more italic formatting.

The variations in font shape and size repelled me. I didn’t want to read further. If I’d have pushed through, I’m sure a headache awaited me.

This was font abuse at its worse—and a telltale sign of a self-published book.

[The first five errors of self-publishing are poor content, cover, title, editing, and file conversion.]

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!